Monkeypox is a contagious disease caused by the Monkeypox Virus (MPXv), which belongs to the same genus as the Smallpox Virus; Orthopoxvirus. Infections of the Monkeypox Virus causes symptoms in humans that is quite similar — but milder — to those seen in smallpox patients. Though considered a very rare disease, just recently a confirmed case of MPX was found in Singapore. Several neighbouring countries, including Indonesia’s Batam is on alert and is strengthening its borders.

The question that remains: Is a Monkeypox Vaccine available? Will a Monkeypox Vaccine be necessary?

Understanding Human MonkeyPox

The Human Monkeypox Disease is caused by a virus species belonging to the genus Orthopoxvirus. Human Monkeypox is currently known to be endemic in the villages of Central and West Africa. The occurrence of cases is often found in tropical rainforests where contact with infected animals is frequent.  In the event that Monkeypox virus is spread via animal-human transmission, animals known to be the most likely reservoir of the virus are Apes & monkeys (primates), Gambian giant rats, and Squirrels.  This risk is especially high if a person was found to consume the flesh of an infected animal, more so if not properly cooked.

Secondary (or human-to-human) transmission can result from having close contact with contaminants such as respiratory tract secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated by patient fluids or lesion materials. Transmission occurs primarily via droplet respiratory particles usually requiring prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts household members of active cases at greater risk of infection. Transmission can also occur by inoculation or vertically via the placenta of a childbearing woman (congenital monkeypox). In spite of that, there is currently no evidence suggesting that person-to-person transmission alone can sustain monkeypox infections in the human population. There is, however, still the question of genetic mutation.

Monkeypox Vaccine: How to Prevent

Prevention of the Human Monkeypox Disease is primarily in avoiding any contact with rodents and primates as well as limiting direct exposure to blood and inadequately cooked meat. Close and prolonged physical contact with infected people and/or contaminants should be avoided. Universal Protection is mandated, wear gloves, masks, and other appropriate protective clothing while handling sick animals or their infected tissues, when taking care of ill people, and upon travel to known endemic or outbreak regions.

Healthcare workers, families of patients treating, and/or exposed to patients with confirmed monkeypox or their samples should consider being immunized against smallpox through their national health authorities. Smallpox vaccines, while are thought to provide partial immunity against the Monkeypox disease are nevertheless, hardly feasible. This is due to the market unavailability of smallpox vaccine, after productions are discontinued following smallpox eradication.